We often treat thoughts as if they were facts. You may have the thought “I am no good at this,” or “He’s is a jerk,” or “Nobody understand me,” or even “I am brilliant!” Does thinking it make it so?

When we have a thought many times, over and over, it can condense into a belief. So a belief is a thought, or a number of connected thoughts, that we have a lot of the time. Beliefs are then quite often taken as facts.

For example: “The world is flat.” Enough people had that thought, or held the assumption, often enough for it to be assumed to be a fact for centuries!

When we start to pay attention to our thoughts, with a gentle curiosity, then we start to think about our thinking. We can then move away from believing that the thought is a fact.

Then there’s this: If the thought does have evidence pointing to it being a fact, ask yourself a different question. “What does buying into this thought do to me? Does it help? Is it working?”

If the answer is no, then simply move on from the thought. Choose not to get caught up in it.

Mindfulness of thoughts mp3


Start this activity with mindfulness of the breath.  Allow yourself to notice any thoughts that come into your head as you are aware of your breathing. Notice, pay attention to and accept these thoughts, without judgement. Thoughts are not bad or good, positive or negative, they just are what they are – the thought that you happen to be having at this particular moment.

You may become aware that you are having difficulty thinking about your thoughts – so think about that. You may be thinking: “I can’t do this very well.” Well, that’s a thought too. Allow yourself to think about that.

Some people like the metaphor of allowing the thoughts to just float like leaves on a stream, or clouds in a sky, noticing each passing thought and then the one that comes after it, and then the one that comes after that. A Buddhist idea is to think of thoughts as pages written on water.

You may notice that just at the moment you become aware of a thought, it passes and is replaced by another thought. That’s what happens – thoughts come, and they go.

Finally, bring yourself back to awareness of the breath.

Please feel free to download the MP3 for your own personal use.

Exercise 8: Mindfulness of thoughts


Other mindfulness exercises


Get the mobile version

The mindfulness exercises are one of the features available in the free Living Well App for iPhone and Android. Be mindful anywhere, anytime.



  1. Comment by matt mcdowell

    matt mcdowell Reply September 23, 2014 at 2:45 am

    Hi i have been having problems with anxiety ,self esteem and confidance for some years now,and i just found out mindfullness today through my mental health worker although there is so much to learn i think this could really work for is possible that i could get some kind of exercises online that i can practise everyday and some advice on my best ways to learn?.
    many thanks
    Matt Mcdowell

    • Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]

      Jess [Living Well Staff] Reply September 25, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Matt,
      Feel free to download our mp3s to your mp3 player to work through each day. Another option is to download our app, which you can set up to remind you to do the various exercises when it suits best.
      Also take a look at our page on creating your own mindfulness exercise for more ideas on working mindfulness into your days.
      Best of luck Matt.

  2. Comment by jan

    jan Reply October 21, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Hi; I’ve tried right clicking to save the file as an mp3 but only get an option to ‘save target as’, not ‘save as’. This doesn’t allow me to save it in an audio format. Is there a solution to this? Thanks!

    • Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]

      Jess [Living Well Staff] Reply October 23, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      “Save target as” (or if you’re using Google Chrome, “Save link as”) should also save the file as an mp3. If this still doesn’t work please let me know and I will send you the mp3 in an email.

      Update: Simply clicking on the link should now result in an automatic download.

  3. Comment by Rochelle

    Rochelle Reply June 26, 2015 at 9:28 am

    why is this mindfulness exercise only for men?

    • Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]

      Jess [Living Well Staff] Reply June 26, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Hi Rochelle,
      Thanks for your question. The mindfulness exercises are for everyone, and anyone is invited to use them!
      This website itself is aimed primarily at men who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual assault. Unfortunately there isn’t too much information or support out there that includes these men, let alone that is specifically aimed at them.
      That certainly does not mean that the resources we post can’t be used by others, indeed we welcome anyone who might find them useful.

  4. Comment by Antonio Soler

    Antonio Soler Reply April 23, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Hello, I’m afraid that is not possible to download the audio mp3 anymore. Any solution for this?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]

      Jess [Living Well Staff] Reply April 29, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Thanks very much Antonio for bringing this to our attention. We’ll fix this as soon as possible.

      Edited (at 10:03 AM) to add: This has now been fixed.

  5. Comment by RAFA

    RAFA Reply April 24, 2016 at 3:01 am

    boa tarde! Também não consigo salvar nenhum arquivo em mp3. Se tiver como enviar por email. Obrigada!

    • Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]

      Jess [Living Well Staff] Reply April 29, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Hi RAFA,
      There was an issue with the download link but this has now been fixed. Please do try again and let me know if you continue to have trouble.

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